Amid sweltering heat, vacation extension cry grows louder
Govt Plugs Ears As Parents, Experts Sound Alarm
Srinagar, Aug 2: Jammu and Kashmir government has come in the line of fire over its adamancy to not extend the summer vacations in the Valley schools despite the unbearable heat.
On Tuesday, the Kashmir schools did open after a 10-day summer break but it only meant trouble for the school children, many of whom reportedly fell unconscious during the day as they were fasting for Ramadan.
“At least a dozen school children fell unconscious in our school due to scorching heat,” said a teacher at a prominent missionary school in Srinagar. “Ideally, one expects private educational institutions to be fully equipped to make children comfortable in the unbearable heat. But sadly this is not the case. So you can only imagine the situation with government-run schools, which lack even fans, not to talk of ACs.”
Pertinently, the state government is also being criticized for showing adamancy over the issue. “Parents had already made a request to the chief minister, who holds the Education portfolio, to extend vacations by few days till the scorching heat shows some decline. But the government went ahead with opening of schools, little caring about the safety of children,” said Muhammad Muzaffar, a parent. “It is the moral responsibility of the people at the helm to consider vacations for a few more days in view of the hostile weather. The Government cannot risk the lives of children this way. It is highly condemnable.”
According to parents, many children, especially in higher classes, happen to be fasting in ongoing holy month of Ramadhan—a fact which the Government has again overlooked. “When the Government happens to be interested in playing politics over education, it leaves no stone unturned to ensure reopening of schools after hartals and curfews. But here it is itself jeopardizing the safety of children by overlooking safety concerns due to hostile weather,” said Abdul Majeed Wani, another parent from Rawalpora.
The parents say neither the private schools nor government-run institutions are ready to make children comfortable amid scorching heat. “The Government run schools, at most of the places, are worse than cowsheds, lacking windows and doors, not to talk of fans. The government has itself failed to equip schools properly and is now rubbing salt on the wounds by risking the lives of children,” they said. “The Government must come clean on the reports that it opened schools to ensure participation of students in rehearsals for upcoming August 15 functions. The students cannot be a cannon fodder.”
When contacted, the Director School Education Muhammad Shafi Rather expressed helplessness on the issue, though he candidly admitted that the heat is scorching. “It is a fact is that Valley is reeling under unusual heat wave conditions. However, the decision on the extension of summer vacations has to be taken by the government,” he told Greater Kashmir.
He, however, said: “We are trying for extension of vacations.”
According to health experts, it would be in the fitness of things if the vacations are extended by few days. “We normally advise elderly people to avoid moving out in these extreme heat conditions, not to talk of children, who happen to be very fragile,” said a children specialist, wishing not to be identified. “The children are obviously at the risk of falling unconscious due to scorching heat. When aged people are not able to bear it, how would children be able to cope up with it? And then, there is another factor to it: this heat leads to fatigue which in turn hampers levels of comprehension of children in classes. So they won’t be able to grasp the lessons properly.”
The risk which Govt 'overlooks'
PERTINENTLY, as per the United States Environmental Protection Agency, children need to take extra precautions to avoid overheating on days of extreme heat. “Children have a smaller body mass to surface area ratio than adults, making them more vulnerable to heat-related morbidity and mortality. Children are more likely to become dehydrated than adults because they can lose more fluid quickly,” the USEPA website reads.
It adds: “Children play outside more than adults, and they may be at greater risk of heat stroke and exhaustion because they may lack the judgment to limit exertion during hot weather and to re-hydrate themselves after long periods of time in the heat.”
Lastupdate on : Thu, 2 Aug 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 2 Aug 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 3 Aug 2012 00:00:00 IST
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